Tuesday, 26 July 2016

THE BERNIE SANDERS PHENOMENON

    I think it's time we had a closer look at what Bernie Sanders has effectively accomplished. He has gained the support of millions of young people who are about to vote for the first time. Most of all he has led them directly into the camp of Hilary Clinton and the Democratic Party Establishment. He has added millions of votes to the presidential campaign of Hilary Clinton and thus given her a really significant boost.
     This may not be what he intended but, it is what he did. And his efforts need to be evaluated on that point.
     Well over and above the "Trump phenomenon," there is something quite disturbing about this aspect of America politics at this point.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The World Social Forum 2016 as well as the parallel World Forum on Theology and Liberation are
less than two months away and the preparations are moving along rapidly - and well.

You can find up-to-date information about both Forums by visiting their respective sites. They are easily accessed by googling WSF2016 and, for the other, ROJEP.  The detailed program of the Theology Forum is already available at the ROJEP site.

The detailed World Social Forum program should be available very shortly. (The team is laying out times and places for the workshops today!) Both are extremely dense with content and challenge.

The World Social Forum will take place in Montreal, largely at UQAM (The University of Quebec at Montreal) from August 9-14. The World Forum on Theology and Liberation will take place at the Jean-de-Brebeuf College in Montreal on August 8 and 13 with the other days being devoted to the activities of the World Social Forum and with a full program of workshops sponsored by the World Forum on Theology and Liberation.

In order to attend the World Social Forum you need to register ($20 for the week). In order to attend the World Forum on Theology and Liberation you must do the same and ALSO register at ROJEP ($25 - which includes some meals).

Three hundred participants are expected at the Forum on Theology and Liberation and 50,000 at the World Social Forum.

This year there is a special effort to move the World Social Forum from word to action. So, beyond the 1000 workshops in three days, there will also be extensive time given to the work of convergence leading to the open-air Agora (Marketplace) on Saturday where participants will be challenged to hone their action-proposals down to five major world-wide actions to form a program for follow-up to the forum.

It should also be a very festive occasion with the prominent participation of well-known speakers, artists, film-makers and musicians.

Please do come !! - and bring your ideas and hopes with you.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Bible, Faith and the World

From an interesting book, Oser la rencontre: Foi et psychanalyse, 1911, Médiaspaul, p. 99:
"Encore trop de gens pensent que la foi est contenu dans la Bible, alors que la foi véritable nous propose plutôt de voir le monde comme un livre que la Bible nous apprend à lire, à écouter, à déchiffrer. N'est-elle pas la première et la plus lumineuse des interprétations ?"
I translate this as :
"Still far too many people think that faith is contained in the Bible, whereas real faith invites us to look at the world as a book that the Bible teaches us to read, to unravel. Is it not the first and most light-filled of interpretations"

The same thing could be said, I think, of Church teaching. It helps us interpret the world and it is the world that is the first book or Word of God. I think we have a lot of work to do to get this across and to use it ourselves.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Holy Saturday Reflection



According to Christian tradition today is called Holy Saturday, the “day in between” Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It recalls the phrase in the Creed that says Jesus “descended into hell” after his death on the cross. But, today is not a day to try to imagine what happened on that day two millennia ago after Jesus died on the cross outside the gates of Jerusalem. Nor is it exactly the same as Dante’s journey through Hell in the Inferno. All those people were dead. According to Nathan Michel, “What the paschal triduum [the three days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday] actual celebrates is mystery, not history…”[1] And mystery is always about the present. “They celebrate not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people….”[2]  What does it mean then that “Jesus descended into hell?”  It fits of course with the whole story of Jesus in the Gospels. Early in his life as a young adult, he made an option and moved very consciously to stand with those who were on the “periphery” of society. He entered their hell.
OK, so what is there today that corresponds to Jesus “descent into hell?”  I would like to suggest we consider those who “live in hell” today: those living in refugee camps, the drug addicts, the homeless, those living in the favelas on the outskirts of the major cities of the world or in the inner city slums. We might also want to take some time with those living with the last stages of a fatal disease like cancer, Lou Gehrig’s syndrome, clinical depression, schizophrenia, paranoia…. These people “live in hell” How about also those whose relatives, children, parents, mothers, sisters or brothers have disappeared, sometimes years ago? 
https://revbmw.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/discerning-the-body/
Today?  Jesus lives and walks among us with the same heart full of love and compassion. Pope Francis has repeated, and in audiences asked those present to repeat with him, “God’s mercy has no limit” … no limit! Jesus is risen in his people, in his “church.”  He lives there, here, in and through us. We, today, are called to live this “mystery.”  (You know that in Greek the word refers to something profound that is profound and hidden but open to discovery.) We, who are the church, the assembly of God’s people, are called also to descend into hell, to go to the encounter of those who live there (or to that part of us that lives there). God’s mercy knows no limit. We are called, like Jesus, to gather them up out of hell, to walk with them as they journey out of hell.
In my way of understanding Christianity, we journey toward that utopic moment when there is no more hell because all those who were there have left, they have left because they found brothers and sisters who walked with them out of hell.
Today I want to salute all those health workers, social workers, psychologists, doctors, parents, family members, teachers, pastors, nuns, volunteers and … friends… who dedicate their lives to just this.  
Some job!


[1] “The Three Days of Pascha,” Assembly, Volume 18:1, Notre Dame Center for Liturgy, Notre Dame Indiana,
[2] Ibid.